ENGL 258
Poetry and the City Spring 2020
Division I Writing Skills

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In this course we will consider poems generated out of the experiences of urban life. The city provides for poets a vivid mental and imaginative landscape in which to consider the relation of vice and squalor to glamour; the nature of anonymity and distinction; and the pressure of myriad bodies on individual and mass consciousness. We will explore ways in which the poet’s role in the body politic emerges in representations of the city as a site both of civilized values and/or struggles for power marked by guile and betrayal. Taking into account the ways in which cities have been transformed over time by changing social and economic conditions, we will consider such issues as what the New York of the 1950s has to do with the London of the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, and why poetry as a genre might be particularly suited to representing the shifting aspects and populations of urban life. Poets will include Dante, Pope, Swift, Blake, Wordsworth, Whitman, Baudelaire, Yeats, Crane, Moore, Hughes, Brooks, Lorca, Bishop, Ginsberg, Baraka, Ashbery, Yau, Bitsui, Rankine, and Diaz. We will also draw on essays by Simmel, Benjamin, Williams, and Canetti, photographs by Hines, Weegee, Abbott, and Nishino; the blues, as sung by Holliday and Vaughan; and films such as Man with a Movie Camera, Rear Window, and Breathless.
The Class: Type: discussion-based seminar
Limit: 19
Expected: 19
Class#: 3740
Grading: yes pass/fail option, yes fifth course option
Requirements/Evaluation: class participation; the course will require four 5-page essays in multiple drafts
Prerequisites: 100-level English course or a 5 on the literature component of the AP exam, or permission of the instructor
Enrollment Preferences: first-year and sophomore students who are thinking of majoring in English
Distributions: Division I Writing Skills
WS Notes: The course will require four 5-page essays in multiple drafts. Students will receive from the instructor timely comments on their writing skills, with suggestions for improvement.
Attributes: AMST Arts in Context Electives
ENGL 200-level Gateway Courses
ENGL Literary Histories B

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